The US military has claimed to have eliminated a leader of the Somali jihadist group of Al-Shabab who is reportedly linked to the attack perpetrated last January against the American military base at Manda Bay in Kenya and which killed three American soldiers.
The United States Command for Africa (Africom) said in a statement relayed Wednesday by the Kenyan media that the terrorist was killed alongside his wife, who was also a known member of Al-Shabab, during an air strike carried out on Saturday in coordination with the Somali government.
The air strike is said to have targeted Saakow, about 320 km west of Mogadishu.
“The two terrorists were identified as a senior al-Shabaab leader, who was in charge of planning and directing terrorist operations on the Kenya border region, including the recent attack on Manda Bay, and his wife, who also was a witting and active member of al-Shabab responsible for facilitating a wide range of terrorist activities,” said Africom in its statement.
The Manda Bay base, also known as Camp Simba, is a Kenyan Defense Forces military base that is used by US forces to provide counterterrorism training and support to its African partners in Eastern Africa, respond to crises and protect American interests.
“Since January 5, Africom and our partners have pursued those responsible for the attack on US and Kenyan forces at Manda Bay,” said US Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, Africom commander. “This strike demonstrates that we will continue to relentlessly pursue those responsible for Manda Bay and those wishing to do harm to Americans and our African partners.”
Africom will continue to support Washington’s African and European partners in the fight against al-Shabaab, said Townsend. “It is important to impact their ability to threaten peace and security in East Africa,” he said.
Immediately following the attack in Kenya, the command took swift measures to increase its force protection postures and harden its operating location, including Manda Bay, while simultaneously pursuing the attackers and their network.
Al-Shabaab is the largest and most kinetically active al-Qaeda network in the world. In November 2019, after a series of complex attacks targeting Somali bases hosting US forces, al-Shabab’s leadership publicly identified Americans and US interests worldwide as priority targets. The message mirrored Usama bin Laden’s declaration of war on the US in 1996, Africom said.